Choosing Storefront Doors: Ensuring Safety and Appeal for Fall Shopping

As summer comes to a close, families are preparing for the beginning of the school year. This often includes at least one big shopping excursion.

This year, back-to-school spending is expected to increase more than 10 percent compared to last year, according to data collected by the National Retail Federation. Between K-12 and college shoppers, consumers are predicted to spend $83.6 billion.

As parents and students alike begin to cross items off their back-to-school shopping lists, it’s important that retailers keep their facilities in top condition. The first order of business should be the door that welcomes shoppers into your store.

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Shoppers prefer automatic doors

Nearly 60 percent of respondents to NRF’s survey said they planned to carry out their back-to-school shopping at a department store. These usually have automatic sliding doors, which is what consumers prefer, according to a survey from the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers.

Consumers appreciate the convenience of automatic doors when they’re carrying multiple bags or pushing carts or strollers through doors. But if the hardware isn’t working properly, a consumer may not be able to access your store or leave it. An ill-functioning door can also pose a safety risk to shoppers and employees alike.

Choose storefront doors wisely

The first step in having a functional storefront door is choosing the right one for your store. For high-volume, two-way traffic, automatic sliding doors are typically the best choice. These allow for people to enter or exit your store from a single location.

Automatic swinging doors are another excellent option, but two doors are typically required for this type of entrance. Flow of traffic will go in the direction that the door swings.

Low-energy automatic swinging doors are a good idea for providing a handicap-accessible entrance. These don’t necessarily require two doors, AAADM explained.

Weigh your storefront door sensor options

There’s more to an automatic door system than just the door. You’ll also need to choose the right sensor or trigger system so doors can open when needed and stay closed at all other times.

A door might have a series of sensors, beginning with an approach sensor, then a threshold protection sensor, and finally, an egress sensor. Safety sensors are also common, particularly on high-speed doors.

It’s critical to know that all sensors are working properly. If one isn’t working, the door may fail to open at the right time – or at all – meaning a customer may not be able to enter or exit the store, or it could become a safety hazard to anyone passing through the entrance.

Another option is sensor floor mats. These aren’t as common in new construction today, but an older building may still have this function installed, Construction Witness explained. Sensor floor mats would detect weight placed on the entrance mat and trigger the door to open.

Multiple issues have come from these systems, including enduring too much weight from loaded shopping cards and repeat heavy traffic. Poor weather conditions like rain, ice and snow can also cause doors to malfunction.

Issues may manifest in different ways. The doors might cease to open; they might stay open when they should close; they might open or close erratically and without warning.

Correct sensor installation is critical to properly functioning doors. If sensors communicating with different doors are placed too close together, they could be triggered out of turn, or not triggered when expected.

Perform daily inspections of commercial storefront doors

Once a door is installed properly by knowledgeable experts, you’ll still need to periodically evaluate your doors to make sure they continue to perform well.

When you get into the habit of performing routine inspections, you’re more likely to notice when something seems off. You’ll be more in tune with symptoms of a problem that should be addressed, and you may wind up saving money and time by fixing an issue before it causes significant setbacks.

Choose a time when foot traffic is light, and make an effort to conduct your inspections at the same time each day. A good time to do so is In the morning, when you first turn on the power, AAADM suggested.

For sliding doors, simply making sure they slide open and close when they’re supposed to is enough for a daily inspection. For automatic swinging doors, the same routine on both sides is a good idea.

Additionally, recruit the help of a co-worker to test the safety sensor for swinging doors. While you approach the door from the correct side, your co-worker should stand on the opposite side. If the safety sensor is working properly, the door won’t swing open.

Other safety sensors, like electronic holding sensors or sensors built into the door frame, should also be tested. Hold your hand in front of the electronic holding sensor. The door should not close. For sensors in the door frame, stand between the automatic doors. They should not move to close.

Beyond daily inspections, more thorough evaluations throughout the year are a good idea for identifying functions that are losing their accuracy, or power or parts that are wearing out. It’s especially important to schedule these evaluations before and after major shopping seasons, like the back-to-school and holiday rushes.

If you’re eager to get your commercial storefront door inspected, reach out to the experts at Miner Corp.